What Makes a Great Strength & Conditioning Coach

Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile Alabama during a Mobile Bay Bears Minor League Baseball Game

When I worked in Minor League Baseball, at the end of every season, my guys would always start asking me about who they were considering to be their off-season strength coach. They would always ask, "is he good?"

What I came to realize is that every strength coach is going to have a different philosophy. 

One of my beliefs is that we have so many different and completely contrasting training models because nobody really knows the definite best thing. I have a model that has been molded by my mentors and early days of my career that I truly believe to be the best model. But I can think of a dozen coaches off the top of my head who have completely opposite views.

So how can you really decide who is a good strength and conditioning coach?

My criteria was simple. Do they truly care about you? Are they really working to put out the best possible product for this athlete? Are they actively trying to get better as a professional? If they meet this criteria, I think you're pretty darn good. You don't need to be exactly like me, you just need to care. 

So every year, we would look into these coaching candidates online profiles for signs of caring. I always liked seeing signs of continuing education. Maybe some posts about books they were reading or courses they were attending. I liked seeing certifications like Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) because that tells me they spent a lot of time and money on getting a non-required certification that will make you a lot better. I just wanted to see that you cared. 

Today, I promote the same thing with the coaches that I consult with. I always get questions about what to study, what books to read or which classes to take. And my answer is always the same...follow your heart. 

You should study whatever you are passionate about. If you love neurology like me, become an expert at neuroscience. If you love creating joint mobility, be the worldwide leader at joint mobility. If you don't love what you are doing, you'll never be the best at it.

Some of the coaches I work with want to coach in the NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL and they want to position themselves to get these jobs. So, in that case, what should you study? Same answer. Follow your heart. 

The way coaches get hired for these jobs can happen a million different ways. I know some places have a GM that hires everyone. Some places use a search firm. Other lean on current staff members for recommendations. From personal experience, I know some INSANE ways that some coaches have acquired those positions. The point is, you just cannot predict the best path but if you are busy becoming an expert at your craft, eventually, someone will come along that aligns with your position and then the ball starts rolling because you have already done the work. 

So what makes a great strength and conditioning coach? I believe it is how much do they care, how dedicated are they to their own growth and how committed are they to helping the athlete achieve their dreams. This is a service business. So you must serve. 

If you want to learn a little bit more about my training model, click the link below to take a free class where I outline my step-by-step process.

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